“Heartburn!” screamed Maverick Moody, tearing through the silence of an otherwise peaceful Friday evening. He clutched his belly and wiggled around in his seat, hoping to dissipate the gases bubbling in his acidic abdomen. Visions of death swirled before him, as his round eyes retreated deep into their sockets. “Mona, can you come out of the damn kitchen! Where are my heart pills? I think this might be it,” he shrieked. “This is when I die. And dying now means losing my bet with that scoundrel Raj. Intolerable!”
For Mr Moody, death was more than the mere termination of life. It meant loss. A deep insufferable loss. He knew that if he passed, Mrs Moody would pay someone to fix the microwave. The gardener would grow wretched tissue-paper-looking Bougainvilleas all over his beautiful, moldy pavements. His premonitions did not stem from an ornamental egotism, but rather from a genuine worry for the world, deprived of his values.
And then—without knowing that such a thing could happen—Mr Moody released a pent-up gaseous bomb which coincided (thankfully) with the whistle of the pressure cooker. Slowly, his eyes emerged, and his stocky face went back to normal. Sweet release; sweet relief—he sprang back to life.
Mr Moody focused on the TV to dispel memories of the oppressive attack of indigestion, mumbling to himself about the sad decline of advertisements. He was, perhaps one of the few people in the world who anticipated the advertisements more than the shows themselves. “These youngsters have no soul…Jingles these days…uncouth! Mechanical! Had they called me, I’d have penned a masterpiece that would have made Lovely ’n’ Fresh the official soap of the whole country!” he said to nobody in particular.
“As if your writing was very refined,” sniffed Mrs Moody, who had come to the dining room to deposit a dish that smelt suspiciously like burnt rubber. “You used to write such rubbish about girls. Don’t think I’ve forgotten that awful song you wrote about belly buttons.”
Mr Moody ignored this. “I’ll mosey along to Raj’s and see if he wants to play a game of Go Fish. I could beat him in his sleep, but still—I say, the children haven’t called, have they? It’s been a while, I suppose.” He looked wistful; or it could have been the sunlight playing tricks.
As Mr Moody got up to leave, Hero the pug began to bark excitedly, thinking he was being summoned for his evening walk. Hero was a dull dog. Just like a tree grows an annual ring of wood, it seemed like Hero grew a fold of dog fat every year. He was intimately acquainted with the ways of the Moody household, having been present through it all—Mr Moody’s colossal retirement, Mrs Moody’s first call to the pharmacist, and each of their several altercations about the state of the rice cooker.
“You mean you’re going to cheat with the extra deck of cards you carry around. Alright, but have your dinner before you go, Maverick,” said Mrs Moody. Mr Moody cast a sour look her way: it rankled that she hadn’t even attempted to save his life a few minutes ago.
“All right, all right. I’ll eat. But who are you to tell me what’s cheating and what’s fair, Mona? You cheated on me twelve years ago with that senile old neighbour of ours. That’s life, isn’t it?”
Mrs Moody glared at him as she plonked his plate of rice and meat on the table. “You want to bring that up right now? Are you sure? And by the way, he was neither old nor senile back in the day. Not any more than you at least.”
Mr Moody was rather stung by this reminder of his faded virility. Ignoring unsavoury considerations of just how old looking into the mirror made him feel, he said, “Sweetheart, this meat is delicious.”
“You haven’t even eaten it yet, Maverick!”
Mr Moody looked at her, then at the dubious-looking mush on his plate. He smiled weakly, and began to half-heartedly put the goo into his mouth.
“What meat is it?” she asked suspiciously, her hands resting on her hips.
Mr Moody stuffed more of it into his mouth and motioned that his mouth was too full to speak. His wife rolled her eyes and drifted back into the kitchen. As Mr Moody finally unglued his mouth to suggest that they get some help, he remembered that every cook or cleaner they had ever hired had left after the fourth day at best, and the fourth hour at worst.
While she was in the kitchen, Mr Moody spit out the food, and emptied the plate in front of Hero, who was hovering around the dining table in hopes of receiving bits of Mrs. Moody’s uncooked meat. She didn’t notice as she headed intently to the living room. Her husband followed her meekly, leaving his plate to the slothful pug.
A penetrating thought struck Mr Moody. “Why aren’t you eating?”
“I’ve eaten already, Maverick.” she said hastily. Her footsteps quickened.
“I KNEW IT!” Mr Moody charged into the living room, and saw that his wife had seized his rightful armchair.
“The remote is mine, Mona!” Mr Moody shrieked , “You’re trying to poison me with your damn food, so that you can have the TV all to yourself!”
Mrs Moody smiled smugly.
“Men, I tell you. Easy to break, easy to fix.” said Mona Moody, under her breath.
Our mascot writes all ALMA Staff pieces. ORI is whimsical and unpredictable; we’ve tried being friends with him and failed.